Thursday, April 29, 2010

Authors Corner: "Finding Angel" by Kat Heckenbach

Darkness can’t be brought into the light without being extinguished…but when light is brought into the darkness, it will continue to shine.   

When you arrive at Kat Heckenbach’s website, you know you’ve landed someplace just a little weird.

From the eye peering out between flowers, to the picture of what seems to be a howling moon with the above quote, it grabs your interest.

And so will her writing.

Heckenbach—mother of two, Magna Cum Laude college graduate (BS, Biology), cancer survivor and article writer for biblically based periodicals—never thought she’d end up being in a category reserved for few: “a Christian who writes fantasy/horror.” It just didn’t seem to fit together.

But she’s found a delicate balance, and a great way to share her faith with her readers. She recalls:

“I realized in the summer of 2007 that I needed to combine my varied passions into one pursuit, writing. I began with an idea that’s appealed to me since childhood—a hidden world where magic and mythical creatures are real. The result is Finding Angel, a Young Adult Fantasy that combines science, magic, and faith.

I soon discovered I was paddling upstream by trying to pitch a fantasy that doesn’t lie solidly in either the Christian or secular market. I started looking for other roads to publication. By the end of 2008, I had begun writing—and selling—personal experience stories to denominational publications. Before long, my stories were making it into anthologies such as The Ultimate Christian Living.

Then came short fiction including fantasy and stories related to my yet unpublished book, Finding Angel. They’ve found a place in Digital Dragon, ResAliens, and Mindflights. My darker fiction has appeared in several secular speculative fiction magazines and anthologies, both online and in print.

But the novel version of Finding Angel is still at the heart of my writing. I’m presently working on the sequel. God is leading me down a different publishing path than I expected, but I’m enjoying the new journey and have discovered a wonderful world in writing short fiction.”

Heckenbach’s work recently caught the attention of a reporter for one of the two mainstream newspapers in her area of Florida. Read more about this very interesting lady here in the Brandon News.

To check out Kat’s weird and wonderful flights of fantasy and darkness that's appealing to both adults and youth, start with these:

“The Artist” (fantasy) at Mindflights;
“Eyes on the Hilltop” (mainstream) at Christian Fiction Online

Or go to her website,, for a complete listing of her work, and to keep an eye out for the publication of Finding Angel.

The author of this blog 20-20 Faith Sight, Sheryl Young, has also written a book, What Every Christian Should Know about the Jewish People. See info in column at right.
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

TV Violence Against Women Increases Drastically

The Parents Television Council has released their October 2009 survey illustrating a troublesome increase in violence, including sexual violence, against women on television shows.

Here are some highlights from the findings in “Women in Peril: A Look at TV’s Disturbing New Storyline Trend”:
-There’s been a 400 percent increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims across all networks from 2004 to 2009.
-Incidences of violence against women on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC rose 120 percent from 2004 to 2009, while other types of violence during the same time frame increased only 2 percent.
-The most frequent type of violence shown is beating (29%), followed by credible threats of violence (18%), shooting (11%), rape (8%), stabbing (6%), and torture (2%).
-Violence against women tends to be depicted rather than just described, and that of the above violent storylines, the acts resulted in the woman’s death 19 percent of the time.

In a 2010 Survey conducted for Seventeen Magazine, a popular teen girls’ publication, over three-quarters of teen boys polled stated there is too much pressure from society to have sex; due at least in part to being influenced by pornographic images.

Both studies conclude that the acts of violence along with explicit sex seen on TV may contribute to young people viewing aggression and violence against women as normal and acceptable.

The increase in violence doesn’t stop with TV:
The sexual mistreatment and beating of actress Jessica Alba's character in her new mainstream Hollywood movie, The Killer Inside Me, was so graphic that Alba herself walked out of a screening.   

Alba plays a woman involved in a sadomasochistic relationship who enjoys being beaten. 

In a related issue: See this blogsite's newer article: Male-bashing on TV.

A longer version of this article with more details was originally published here at The Underground Online Magazine
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Friday, April 16, 2010


What is “worship"? For a Christian, is it simply singing praises to the Lord? Is it the time or money we give, or the amount of scriptures we read? Is it only what we do on Sunday morning?

When Pastor Chris MacKinnon took his first position as a youth pastor and worship leader in 2001, he began to think about this. It eventually turned into a book, Worship Theory: Laying a Foundation for Corporate and Individual Worship.

MacKinnon says:
“Worship is a vital element to our Christian lives. When Jesus was traveling through Samaria, He answered questions about our worship. The Book of Leviticus is devoted to God's requirements for sacrificial worship. The Psalms are even a sort of hymnal. So why is it that such an important topic goes overlooked?

There are so many questions we don’t ask, so many implications. For example, did you know that [each believer] already has a Philosophy of Worship?

Webster defines philosophy as 'the set of values, opinions, and ideas of a group or individual.' Every person who enters a service must have opinions and ideas of how to worship God. So the problem is whether or not you have a value, opinion or idea about worship that helps guide you in it”(p. 20 of his book).

Worship Theory looks at ten elements of Biblical worship. Some elements affect our corporate worship, while others are based on how worship can be part of our individual lives. It isn’t a book of answers, but of questions. It’s a guide to help us take a journey to understanding worship and making it more personal and God-pleasing in our lives.

How did you get into church leadership?
I began leading worship at the age of 14 in my home church. Music has always been important in my life. So when a youth pastor saw that I could sing, he gave me the nudge. Leading began in small gatherings during high school, and grew during Bible College. There I learned the piano and began to lead in larger groups. So I took that first position [leading youth and worship]. Since then, worship leading always finds its way into my portfolio.

What is your desire with this book, and your blog,
I have a heart to see the local church fulfill the calling of the Body of Christ. My blog challenges pastors, church leaders and laypeople. I also manage a book review site,

A graduate of Zion Bible College, Chris currently lives and serves in New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife and daughters. Find Worship Theory and other resources at his blog site, or at

The author of this blog, 20-20Faith Sight, Sheryl Young, has also written a book, What Every Christian Should Know about the Jewish People. See information in right column. 
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pediatricians warn schools: Gender-confused students shouldn't be encouraged to experiment

The American College of Pediatricians has launched a new web site appealing to educators across the United States.

They are asking school officials not to encourage sexual experimentation among students who feel they may be confused as to their sexual orientation or gender.

The web site, “Facts About Youth” also carries information for the students themselves and their parents.

In addition, the ACP sent a letter and fact sheet to more than 14,000 school superintendents, presenting the theory that many children and adolescents are often confused at first, but if given the chance they grow out of it and into natural affections for the opposite sex.

Little boys and girls may switch to playing with dolls of the opposite gender. That behavior, says ACP, is usually discouraged but may actually be healthy. Most children also don’t often like the opposite sex until they are pre-adolescent.

The pediatricians say that when counseling young people with these feelings, it should not be a green light to encourage experimentation with alternative transgender or sexual orientations.

Some points The American College of Pediatricians brings up:
-Schools should refrain from adopting policies encouraging non-heterosexual attractions.
-Schools should not be quick to establish and accept various sexual labels.
-It should not be offered as proven fact that gender confusion or sexual confusion is non-changeable.*

ACP’s position runs contrary to today’s political correctness:
What The American College of Pediatricians could be declared “hate speech” according to current trends in tolerance and diversity:

-In April of each year since 1996, a “Day of Silence” takes place in public schools. This day was created by GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) in conjunction with other gay rights groups to end what they consider to be the constant bullying and taunting of gay children and teens across the country.

On the Day of Silence, all students are to remain silent in order to avoid the issue of gender-confusion or sexual orientation for an entire day (it is not illegal to keep children out of school that day, as a form of protected religious free speech).

-Cities in Florida, Texas and other states have recently adopted ordinances to allow cross-dressers and persons of various transgender orientations to use the other sex’s bathrooms in public places. No consideration is being given to the concerns of citizens who don't want to use restrooms with people of the opposite sex, or the fact that men may fake a condition in order to gain access to women in restrooms for criminal purposes.

-Congress is once again set to vote on ENDA, The Employment Non-Discrimination Act. ENDA has been circulating for years but never yet garnered enough votes to pass. It is a controversial measure guaranteeing, among other new rules, that schools and businesses must allow cross-dressers, transsexuals, and other gender-confused persons to appear as they wish on a daily basis. 

Critics of ENDA fear there is no regard for the effect this may have on students or other employees; and that the sexual orientation language is so broad that it could include allowing fetishes such as bestiality. 

What does the Bible say?
Bible skeptics state that if we obey the Old Testament’s laws about homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22-23; 20:13), we would still be stoning gays and lesbians to death. 

But in the New Testament, Jesus died once for all to cover our sins (Ephesians 1:7 for example). And although same-sex behavior is still considered a sin (Romans 1:26-32, 1 Corinthians 6:8-10, 1 Timothy 1:9-11), Bible believers are in no way instructed to hate or harm the person(s) involved.

On the contrary, we are to lovingly attempt instruction and restoration of people involved in all sin. The problem is—behaviors of a sexual nature outside marriage between a man and a woman are no longer considered sin by secular society.

* (An extended version of this article with more information on this topic is available here at The Underground Online Magazine.)
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Friday, April 9, 2010

President's Executive Order for Abortion in Health Care - why the fuss?

In March, 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13535 to prevent federal funding of abortions in the new health care bill (properly titled The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).
Exceptions allowing federal funding for abortion will be rape, incest, and “health of the mother.”

The Executive Order replaces the Stupak Amendment, which was keeping some members of Congress from signing the health care legislation.

Why is including “health of the mother” in Executive Order #13535 so controversial?
Doe v Bolton, the companion case to Roe v Wade and signed into law the same day, defines “health of the mother” as any factors decided by the woman and her doctor “that affect physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age.” This definition is still used today. 

Since 1996, at least 500 physicians and surgeons, including former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, have been writing to newspapers and even testifying before Congress that abortion, especially late term, should never be used as a preferred method to terminate a pregnancy if a mother’s life is in danger.

A Wall Street Journal letter by the physician group called PHACT (Physicians' Ad Hoc Coalition for Truth) stated that instead of protecting the mother, certain methods of abortion “pose a significant and immediate threat to both the pregnant woman's health and fertility.”

Congress and President Obama claim that the newly passed health care legislation protects the conscience clause and prohibits discrimination against health care facilities or providers who are unwilling to participate in funding or providing abortions.

However, many say the wording is too broad, and that a majority of elective abortions will be falsely called "health of the mother" cases for the convenience of federal funding.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute's surveys throughout the years of legalized abortion, rape and incest only account for approximately 1.5% of all abortions.

The original version of this article was published here at The Underground Online Magazine.

(Photo: President Obama signs an Executive Order for Higher Education [not related to EO 13535] on March 30, 2010. Photo in Public Domain as taken by an official photographer during U.S. Government duties.)
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Update: Arizona City allows In-Home Bible Studies

The city of Gilbert, Arizona is now allowing in-home Bible studies that were banned from taking place earlier this year. See 20-20 Faith Sight's first story here.

Gilbert’s Mayor John Lewis told One News Now that the town council members didn’t know about the "cease and desist" orders issued by a zoning inspector.

In addition, the Christian Post reports that Lewis expressed his commitment to religious freedom and was proud that faith-based groups and religious activities take place all around Gilbert.

Lewis said the code will probably be changed to allow in-home services, prayer meetings and Bible studies free of government intervention. The definition of “religious assembly” may be altered.

On Monday, March 22, the Council held a meeting to discuss changes to the Land Development Code which disallows religious assemblies in private homes. The Alliance Defense Fund was present to represent the Bible study leaders.

The actual Notes of that Town Council Meeting can be seen here. The notes confirm that Lewis reiterated his media-reported sentiments in the meeting; and that the sole agenda item was to revisit and begin revamping the city’s interpretation of freedom of religion assembly.

For now, all restrictions according to current statutes have been suspended. A final change is expected in June.

(Sheryl Young's posts about the Gilbert, Arizona restrictions were originally published at The Underground Online Magazine.)
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Authors Corner: "The Victor" by Marlayne Giron

There’s no better time to talk about The Victor than the week leading up to Easter. Marlayne Giron’s medieval fantasy is a beautiful biblical allegory of what Jesus Christ did for the world by loving us enough to give His own life.

The Victor’s fictional battle between good and evil parallels the battle in our real-life world. Giron exhibits a command of the Middle Age period with historical accuracies, authentic language, bloody battles, sumptuous royal feasts and more. She fleshes out man’s faults and feelings. But she also masterfully creates imaginative visions of things which seem impossible.

For those familiar with the Bible’s Gospel message, there is a clear parable in each character. For those who are not, this is still a novel not to be missed. The Victor succeeds in the strange combination of adventure, action, human misery, brotherly love and perfect romance all at once. It would make as spectacular a movie as any Lord of the Rings.

More parallels: The author and me.
Marlayne Giron and I were recently introduced over the Internet by a mutual friend. However, it wasn’t until after I read and reviewed The Victor that we really got to know each other. We may as well be sisters.

We are both Jewish believers in Jesus, with faith in Him as the Messiah who rose from the dead to bring the light of eternal life to both the Jews and Gentiles (Acts 26:23).

Our parents were all Jewish, but raised us in non-committal Jewish homes. That is, with an obligation to do the observances out of tradition rather than heart-felt devotion to God.

We were taught that it was the height of betrayal to our Jewish heritage to “convert to Christianity.” By our teen years, we both considered ourselves atheists.

Living states apart, we saw movies that sparked our interest in Jesus as the Messiah. For me, there was Spartacus and King of Kings. For Marlayne, there was The Exorcist and The Omen. But the clincher was the same for both of us - the 1977 TV miniseries, Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth.

Since accepting Jesus as Messiah, we both labored over our first books for many years. We each have a greater appreciation for our Jewish heritage, embracing rather than turning away from it. But we long to share through her fiction and my nonfiction about Jesus, the Jewish Carpenter, as the Ultimate Sacrifice for mankind:

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The Victor is available at Giron’s website, and most online booksellers, including as a Kindle book on, or through Tate Publishing. For book signings, contact or call 888-361 9473, ext. 24.

The author of this review and 20-20FaithSight blog, Sheryl Young, has written the book "What Every Christian Should Know about the Jewish People." See column at right for info.
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